Disclaimer: Do what I say, not what I do.
Did I hear you say 'Hypocrite'?...Yeah, aren't we all? At least I've got insight. Ho Ho Ho!
We are about to conclude a seminar on forgiveness as part of our weekly devotion in the mission hospital I work at. Yours sincerely is co-ordinating the program, hence the inspiration for another of my once in a green moon notes.
Before I/you go on, if you know you never get angry at anything then don't bother reading this note. You can just go 'glow-basking' in your sainthood.
For the rest of us, anger is a feeling that we experience at one time or the other, some people more often than some others. It's like a reflex reaction. The other side of the Anger-Hurt coin. It tells us something has gone wrong, a rule has been broken, feelings hurt.
Anger as an expression is not bad...it only has the potential to be. You know, when it is held on for too long or it is over-expressed. You may argue that you know how to control your anger and blah blah...but do you? Really?
Forgiveness is thinking differently about our past so that we can be content with our present and can enjoy fully, our future.
Note that I haven't said forgiveness is forgetting or suppressing the past. I did not call it avoidance or deletion. I did not call it 'not facing consequences' or 'condoning bad behaviour'. Aha! *nodding head*
Let's face facts. Events that stir up emotions are hard to forget. The more unique the emotions are, the harder the 'forgetting' process is...so what's the point eh?
What was I talking about again?
A lot of people think when you forgive, you are doing the other person a favor. If you said 'Of course!', you are not totally wrong. However, let's consider for a moment:
How many times have you slept poorly because someone made you angry and did not apologize?
How many times have you skipped your meals, screamed at your friend because someone stepped on your toes?
How many times have you spent your day with someone you did not like just because the person you like hurt you?
While you are busy having a crappy day, the offender is away and HAPPILY looking for other toes to step on. While you are busy being an insomniac, he is already annoying other people with is loud snoring and talking in his sleep.
So you see, when you sincerely forgive, you are at peace. That great smile you are known for returns. People once again want to be around you and you are able to move on with your life. Medically, your sympathetic nervous system stop to 'hypertrophy' (I couldn't resist dropping a jargon).
The highest level of anger, that dude called 'Resentment'...where you replay events that hurt you in your head and relive it like it just happened. And it gets worse every time it's played. This could go on for years and inevitably eat your whole psyche and body.
Take a young lady for example. She was sexually abused as a teenager and now she remembers that incident every time she sees a guy. From being angry at that one guy, now she resents the whole guy folk. Any slight 'pick-up' gesture is met with serious rebuttal and defensive behavior which sends the guys scampering away.
She's definitely not at peace...now tell me, who is suffering?
In all, forgiveness I think helps you more than it helps the offender. The decision to forgive is entirely dependent on you, not what the other person says, or doesn't say. Take control of your life's situations rather than letting life's situation control you. You can control your actions but not your reactions.
I've said all these things as a bored OPD doctor, not a pastor. Else I would have referred to that contract that says "And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us".
Parting question: If you were Jesus dying on that cross, would you have said 'Father forgive them..' or 'Thunder fire una...'